Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I have a yellow sister

People aren't supposed to be yellow, well, caucasians aren't anyway, so this colouring was the first visible sign that something was seriously wrong. The great stack of machines and monitors plugged into her was another clue, and the fact that she and the machines are all in the Flinders Medical Centre's Intensive Care Critical Unit is yet another.

Yellow is the colour of jaundice, and that's what you get when your liver is fucked. "End Stage Liver Failure" is the proper term for it, and that's what my sister has. Years of drinking and drugs + Hepatitis C = 0 Liver. There were lots of miserable sounding words and terms flying about in my discussion with her nurse this morning, none of them nice. Cirrhosis, Internal Bleeding, Encephalitis and Brain Damage among them. There are others I can't even remember right now.

I can only see this ending one way. A person can't live without a functioning liver, and she hasn't got one, and she's not going to get a new one with her history and the Hep C. There aren't a lot of ways that can go.

I saw her on Saturday following an email from Mum telling me what was going on and where Missy (my sister) is. She wasn't conscious though, having been sedated since admission. I think that was the first time I'd seen her for about 8 years. My folks were there and it was the first time I'd seen them in over 6 years. Oddly, they haven't aged a day in that time, which is more than can be said for Missy. I didn't recognise her.

Today she's awake, but not really "there". Sometimes she responds with a nod or shake of the head but mostly she doesn't. She's got tubes down her throat so speaking isn't an option, but they are hoping to be able to remove those later today, but they said that yesterday and the day before as well. Mostly she just lies there being disturbingly yellow with patches of bluey black.

She's got a shocker of a black right eye and bruises all over various other bits, her lips are swollen. Apparently she's been falling down a lot and unable to walk without the aid of a walking frame for months. She lives upstairs and has passed out several times part way up and fallen down them as a result. She's probably also been beaten up once or twice lately because that's normal in her life.

What a fucking mess.

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